How can I support a student who stammers in the classroom?

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Every young person is different and the way that their stammer presents will vary too. It's important to talk to the student about what they find helpful. If the young person works with a Speech and Language Therapist, you can always arrange to speak with them too.

Here are a few strategies to get you started, but do also visit the Top Tips section of our Support Hub. 

When you are talking to the student, try to remember the following...

  • Do not finish the child’s sentences or guess words that they are stuck on.
  • Keep facing towards the student and show you are listening by smiling, nodding, saying “mhmm” and even saying directly “I’m still listening”.
  • Try asking one simple question at a time.
  • Count to 10 before asking another question.
  • Think about the type of questions you are asking the child. Some young people with a stammer find it easier to give ‘Yes/No’ answers.
  • Keep questions and information simple, especially if the young person has other difficulties with language, such as learning new words, putting sentences together and/or understanding language they hear.
  • Comment on ‘what’ is said, not ‘how’ it is said.
  • Let the young person finish their own sentences, even if you need to wait.
  • Avoid correcting a young person’s stammer.
  • Use pauses and slow speech yourself.
  • Avoid telling a young person with a stammer to slow down, relax or take a breath as this can be frustrating.
  • Encourage pupils to take turns so they do not feel rushed and know that their message will be fully heard.
  • Work together by asking them “What can I do during a moment of stammering?

Here are some ways that you can help the young person to feel confident and supported in the classroom and the wider school environment...

  • Introduce a 5 minute class time to share general successes and worries to increase self-awareness, confidence and problem solving.
  • Emphasise what makes a confident communicator, such as the ability to share ideas, make friends, share a joke, ask questions to take an interest in others.
  • Try alternative ways for pupils to complete everyday speaking tasks, such as raising a hand or using a tick sheet for answering the register.
  • Attend regular joint meetings with staff, parents and professionals to get a clear picture of how a young person’s stammer is presenting and gather current strategies.

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